This week is different from other weeks. I’m going to spend this post not ranting about something that ticks me off, I’m going to rant about how GREAT something is. What could have made me change the entire purpose of my rants you ask? The fantastic collective imagination of marketing individuals in baseball would be the answer!
I’m sure you’ve heard the words Manti Te’o, hoax, and imaginary girlfriend several hundred times this week. And while the whole story is messed up, what’s not messed up is a baseball team using one Notre Dame Linebacker’s embarrassment to their advantage. As I first heard from Darren Rovell of ESPN.com, an independent baseball team, the Florence Freedom in Florence, Ky., announced it would have Manti Te'o Girlfriend Bobblehead Day.
“As part of the promotion in late May, fans would get an empty bobblehead box, there will be a pretend kiss cam for fans to kiss their imaginary friends and there will be an imaginary food fight in the kids' area, as well as an air guitar contest.”
And if there’s anything better than the promotion, it’s probably the Freedom’s General Manager and his nonchalant attitude about the event: “There's not a lot to do to get attention in January," said the team's general manager Josh Anderson. "You have to find some way to get the buzz."
The Freedom aren't the first team to do an imaginary giveaway. As Rovell mentioned, the Peoria Chiefs, the Chicago Cubs single-A affiliate, gave out imaginary Lebron James championship rings in 2011 after James and his Heat lost to the Mavericks in the NBA Finals. But as much of a punch line James used to be, this Te’o scandal is really igniting a lot of imaginations; some better than others.
The New York Mets’ Class A Brooklyn Cyclones will hold a “Fictitious Friday” on June 21. Sid Finch will make his professional debut against Roy Hobbs and the New York Knights — all fictional. The Cyclones said they will have a petting zoo “featuring a unicorn, a mermaid and a Minotaur,” adding they “are also in discussions with the Loch Ness Monster and Big Foot to throw out a ceremonial first pitch.”
“Fans should be sure to arrive early because prior to the game, The Beatles will reunite for a once-in-a-lifetime concert event,” Cyclones spokesman Jason Solomon said in an email to the Associated Press, adding, “OK, that’s apparently not true either, but this girl I met online told me she could make it happen.”
My favorite part of that promotion, however, is that all player headshots on the video board that night will be photos of random people throughout the stadium. Genius.
I'm not done. According to their release, the San Jose Giants will kick off their 2013 promotional schedule with an ode to the biggest, and strangest, sports story to break so far this year. On Friday, April 12 the organization will host Lennay Kekua Night at Municipal Stadium. Items such as catfish will be featured on the Turkey Mike's BBQ menu and fans who purchase a game ticket can bring their imaginary or real significant other to the game for free. A meet and greet will also take place prior to the game for all couples to introduce their significant others to their parents, to avoid any confusion about the existence of a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Two free future game tickets will be given to all fans who dress like Manti Te'o and to all Stanford University students because they may know or be Te'o's girlfriend. During the game, promotions will include individuals and their imaginary significant others competing to win great prizes.
To take a man’s most embarrassing and vulnerable moment and to exploit it for profit is absolutely genius, and I say that because I believe Te’o was in on the hoax and he is a d-bag. A d-bag that is about to make a Thirsty Thursday promotion an afterthought while his imaginary girlfriend’s bobblehead makes her way around Kentucky faster than Te’o began hiring a lawyer after the Deadspin article came out.
And it’s glorious.